One of a kind furniture makeovers


Buffet before makeover

Before kids (when I had more time on my hands), I enjoyed dabbling in rehabbing furniture finds from thrift stores and flea markets. Some of the pieces I refurbished we were able to enjoy in our home for years. They were unique and one of a kind. Most recently I stumbled across a wonderful business Facebook page named Creative Brushworks. Owner Robin Puckett specializes in murals, decorative wall finishes, and furniture. Over the last several months I have appreciated Puckett’s before and after photos that she posts on her company Facebook page and wanted to share her work with our readers.

Here we are featuring one of her refurbished side boards. Before tackling a painting project such as this one, make sure the piece of furniture is structurally sound and solid wood is preferred. Unless you have great carpentry skills, only buy something that you can fix up with a little wood glue and wood filler. You can’t fix wobbly legs with a coat of paint! For any paint to have good adhesion, the piece needs to be clean and free of debris.

Next remove all the drawer pulls/hardware. If you like the hardware, you can just clean it up or spray paint it. If you don’t like it, replace it. Any doors should be removed and painted separately. Be sure to glue any loose joints and fill any holes/gaps with wood filler if needed. Then sand the piece to remove surface scratches, smooth out any repairs and to lightly scuff up high gloss finishes. It is highly recommended that you wear a dust mask while sanding.

After sanding the piece should be cleaned (be sure to wear rubber gloves to protect your hands). Puckett uses powdered TSP (Trisodium Phosphate) mixed with water in a bucket and then wipes it down with a cloth. She rinses the cloth frequently in the water solution to remove any debris (note TSP is sold at hardware and paint stores, read directions carefully). If only light cleaning is needed, you can use a cleaner like Simple Green. If the piece needed heavy sanding or repair you should prime it before painting.

Next comes the fun part where you begin to see results – painting! There are many different types of paints out there, but Puckett’s favorite is Paint Couture, a low VOC, 100% acrylic paint formulated just for furniture and cabinets. The paint line also includes pre-mixed glazes and sealers so you can purchase everything you need for a custom finish. This paint is sold through several local distributors which you can find on If you decide to stain part of a piece like she did for the buffet featured here, she recommends MinWax stains.

After makeover

After makeover

For ideas and inspiration, look at home décor magazines such as HGTV and Don’t be afraid of bright colors! You can also use stencils, stamps, even decoupage paper on to your furniture. Replacing or spray painting the drawer handles/hardware on a piece can make a big difference. There are all types of metal spray paints available that work great on hardware. Be sure to have fun with your project, it’s so rewarding to see how amazing an old piece can look freshened up with paint!

1920's cabinet before makeover

1920′s cabinet before makeover

During makeover, before glazing

During makeover, before glazing

1920's cabinet after makeover

1920′s cabinet after makeover

All photos provided by Robin Puckett, Owner 

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Is brass making a comeback?

For years I have recommended that clients replace their dated brass fixtures to help sell their house. These brass fixtures include but are not limited to plumbing, lighting, and cabinet hardware. Nickel, aged bronze, or chrome finish materials have been more desirable and popular among buyers in recent years. Even though there has been chatter about brass making a comeback, I won’t be recommending it by the truck load any time soon as this trend is still evolving. On a recent lighting expedition for a client renovation, I had this very same discussion with Terry MacCallum, a Lighting Consultant at LightStyles in Cornelius. When I asked her about brass making a comeback, her immediate answer was “well yes, and no.” The brass that is starting to surface in lighting stores is quite different than the cheap shiny brass fixtures installed in trac housing and custom homes more than a decade ago. Depending on the manufacturer, this new brass comes in several finishes including “brushed gold”, “winter gold”, and “gold leaf” among others.

While the main lighting display at the front of LightStyles store features a cloud of these trending new gold chandeliers, there is still a wide variety of other fixtures and finishes throughout the store other than gold or brass. When I recommend new lighting or plumbing fixtures to clients, I often shop for lighting both online and in person where I can get a better feel for the actual product. The type of product and finish I recommend depends on the price point and style of the home, whether or not other fixtures have already been updated in the home and a general feel for the space. While homeowners should choose fixtures they like, they should also keep resale in mind. You never know if or when you’ll need to sell your home, so it’s always a good idea for a homeowner to consult with an expert such as a lighting consultant, interior designer or home staging professional when updating lighting in your home.  These professionals will guide you to make a choice that is both tasteful and timeless.

Example of brass chandelier that dates the home:

photo (4)Example of similar size new trending brass in “Brushed Gold” finish by Capital Lighting:

Capital Lighting


After writing this home decor column for a local newspaper, I was contacted by another local vendor that specializes in covers that hide unsightly chandelier chains/electrical cords and/or lamp cords so I thought I would share their story in my blog. Cord Coverup® by A&M Designs, Inc. manufactures a designer quality decorative lighting accessory line that graces many fine homes, businesses, clubs, hotels, casinos and resorts around the world. One aspect I like about this company is that their product line is made right here in North Carolina by displaced textile workers.  This product comes in many styles of fabrics including Dupioni silks, sheer silks, faux silks, burlaps, linens, sheer linens, animal prints, floral prints, gingham checks, toiles and polka dots to complement any home decor. For more information, visit their web site at

cord cover up



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Does your master bedroom have the boring bedroom blues?

Does your master bedroom look more like a place where you sort your laundry or the place you keep your treadmill?  Because we don’t entertain in here, master bedrooms are typically the last room homeowners get around to decorating.  The truth is you spend more time in this room than any other room in your home, so why not create a beautiful and clutter-free master bedroom that gives you total peace of mind.

When designing your new master retreat, I recommend beginning with new bedding and linens. Find a bedding ensemble that you totally fall in love with. The average homeowner can find many great selections at mall department stores such as Belk, Dillard’s, or Macy’s. Another more obvious choice would be Bed, Bath, & Beyond. From here you can make choices regarding wall color, accent colors, window treatments, wall art and other décor. I will walk you through the process.

For a clean and sophisticated master retreat, I chose a white and grey hotel bedding collection as my starting point. Moving on to wall color, I found Sherwin-Williams Exclusive Plum, which happens to be the company’s color of the year. Jackie Jordan, Sherwin-Williams director of color marketing, describes this purple hue as a dusky, filtered violet layered with romantic potential – couldn’t be more fitting for a master bedroom retreat!  Then the homeowner can make selections on window treatments (panels, valences, or a combination of both). Next comes the fun part, filling in with accessories and various décor. I have provided examples in this mood board, a concept often used by interior designers to convey design ideas and inspiration to clients. As a homeowner, keep searching for what appeals to you. Don’t rush the process or settle because in the end you won’t be happy. Once you create your perfect room, you won’t ever want to leave.

Master Bedroom Mood Board

Master Bedroom Mood Board

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Out with the old, In with the New!

It’s that time of year where our homes are filled with holiday décor and lots of new treasures received from loved ones over Christmas. My children have eighteen aunts and uncles with many of them sending gifts, and it can get overwhelming trying to find a place to put everything! I admit that I have been called a neat freak or control freak, but I recently crossed paths with some REAL control freaks…so much so that they even named their Charlotte-based business “Control Freaks LLC.” Control Freaks was founded in 2009 by Sherri Hopper and Tori Jenkins. The three of us got together to provide some suggestions on what you can do to get your home organized before, during, and after the holidays.

In an ideal world, homeowners should try to conduct a big “purge” before the holidays instead of afterwards in order to make room for new clothes, toys, and gadgets. Depending on the ages of your children, use this season as a time to teach them an important skill, organization. For every one new toy or piece of clothing you receive, remove one or two items from your home. This is something that can be done year round. Home owners should be in the mind set to categorize their items: donate or sell, keep, discard.

Hopper and Jenkins have found that the best way to gain control of any area of a home is to use labeling. Doing so will make maintaining a lot easier. Whether your children will be keeping all their new things in their room or in the bonus room, plan to incorporate labeling. They use an electronic labeler with various containers, but hand-written labels will work too! Homeowners can purchase tags for labeling such as those offered as part of Martha Stewart’s line at Staples. Lastly shelving of some sort can be utilized to create a more organized space for things. IKEA is a great source for affordable organization solutions. I especially like their Expedit line that comes in five different colors and various
sizes with all kinds of insert solutions such as drawers, doors, boxes, baskets or bins. Check out Control Freaks web site at for more photos on ways you can organize your home.

Martha Stewart Home Office TM with Avery TM Chalkboard Labels

Labeling storage bins and baskets will help keep your home more organized.


Tori Jenkins and Sherri Hopper own Control Freaks LLC. They help bring control to your home!

Wire Basket Organizers

Labeling bins and baskets and shelving units are key ingredients.

IKEA Office Niche

IKEA Expedit shelving unit and desk help organize this youth bedroom.

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Painting: Small investment yields big returns

I always tell my clients that paint is one of the least expensive home improvements a home owner can make, with the largest amount of return on investment (especially if homeowners are able to do the work themselves).  Painting as a home improvement project is not limited to just to your drywall interiors, as just about any surface can be transformed with a couple coats of paint!

When we moved into our current home many years ago, we didn’t necessarily have the funds to update everything that needed updating at the time.  We had one of those “not-so-beautiful” brass chandeliers from the 1990’s in our kitchen, so I decided to update the fixture with some paint and accessories.   I spray painted it crème and purchased some cute little shades that I covered with a sage green gingham check fabric and finished off with green trim.  The total cost of this project was about $30 which cost significantly less than purchasing a new chandelier.

Most recently during staging consultations with clients looking to sell, I made some suggestions with respect to paint that surprised both the realtor and sellers.  The first home had a garage that had been converted into living space with heated square footage and was the largest room in the home.  It had been finished with wood panel walls by the previous owners, and the current homeowners were looking to sell because of corporate relocation.  I recommended painting the paneling with one of my favorite “go-to” staging colors Kilim Beige by Sherwin Williams.  It turned out great and the clients’ home showed well.  They received two full-price offers within days of listing.

Before & after paint paneling

The second consultation was a previously foreclosed home where the investors painted the dated brick fireplace.  The color I suggested for this makeover was Sherwin Williams Alabaster.  Paint totally lightened and brightened this dingy fireplace, and the Italian countryside canvas art provided a pop of color to create a great focal point in this room.  This home sold in just 37 days.

Fireplace B&A

As you can see, painting was well worth these sellers’ investment in both time and money.  Just about anything can be painted, you just need to determine which type of paint is best to use for your application.  If you’re not sure, ask a representative at your local paint store.  These professionals are a great resource for homeowners since paint is their expertise.  What item in your home is waiting for a fresh look with a new coat of paint?

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Fall decorating with Mason jars

While Christmas is just around the corner, we still have one more month of fall to enjoy.  Fall is a time to celebrate pumpkins, pilgrims, turkeys, and mason jars.  Yes, I said mason jars.  Traditionally used to preserve fruits and vegetables with its vacumm seal, crafters everywhere are putting on their own spin on the mason jar by transforming the functional jar into creative fall décor.  I would like to feature some of these crafters that I found online this week:

Modge Podge Halloween Jars by Rachel at R&R Workshop:  complete DIY directions can be found at

Halloween Mason Jar Crafts by R&R workshop

Mason Jar Candle Holders by Melissa at :  She suggests filling jars with anything from marbles to cranberries to candy corn to achieve the festive look you desire.


“THANKS” jars from – designer unknown.  Last year I crafted a similar design I found on using miniature pumpkins to spell out the word “Thanks” on my mantle.  This year I found these cute jars that would make a great table centerpiece for Thanksgiving.


I am very thankful for all my family, friends, clients, and readers of this blog.  I wish all of you a very happy thanksgiving.  Thank you for reading!

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Ain’t Too Shabby is pretty Chic – Cornelius, NC Home & Garden Shop


Ain’t Too Shabby is a home and garden shop located in Cornelius that has been open for years, but only recently did I stumble upon this quaint store that carries unique pieces of furniture dating from the 1800’s to the 1960’s.  The store was formerly located in Oak Street Mill in downtown Cornelius but recently expanded and is now located in the former Treasure Express store on Statesville Road.

This store attracts collectors of vintage furniture, decorators, and homeowners in general who define their style as “Shabby Chic” or “Cottage Chic”.  Shoppers will find that the store is filled with vintage bedroom furniture, dining sets, accent tables and chairs, and accessories.  What makes this store unique from other antique stores is that many pieces of furniture for sale can be custom painted to a color that will work with your décor.   The store offers two lines of paint colors including Van Gogh Chalk Paints and The Original Milk Paints.  Those looking for a creative outlet can learn the art of chalk painting themselves by taking a class offered at the store.


Ain’t Too Shabby’s inventory is flexible and diverse.  The store recently started accepting high quality consignment pieces through its new Divine Design Consignment division where they donate 10% of each consignment sale to a local Christian Charity.  The store also carries handmade jewelry, soaps, and gourmet food.  Whether you’re an avid collector of vintage furniture, an interior designer/decorator, or just plain hungry, you may want to consider Ain’t Too Shabby in Cornelius for your next shopping outing.

Gourmet Food Selection

Gourmet Food Selection

Handmade Jewelry

Handmade Jewelry


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